In a recent survey of US consumers ages 18 and older, 80% of consumers said they now enjoy hot and spicy foods. More than half of those surveyed eat spicy foods at least once a week. In addition, the frequency of consumption and heat levels of hot and spicy foods continues to rise. Snacks and soups were the most common new hot and spicy foods that consumers have tried in the past year.
The survey was conducted by Kalsec, a leading global producer of natural spice and herb flavor extracts, natural colors, natural antioxidants, and advanced hop products for the food and beverage industry. Kalsec offers a full range of heat management innovations including HeatSync® Systems, Fusionary™ Heat, Szechuan pepper extract, ClearCap® Super Soluble capsicum and a complete line of specialty peppers that include ancho, chipotle, guajillo, habanero, and jalapeno.
Consumers are also enjoying hot and spicy foods both when eating at restaurants and at home. While choosing restaurants for hot and spicy options still ranks high, six of 10 consumers now prepare hot and spicy meals when dining in. Dinner remains the most popular meal for hot and spicy food consumption.
“Variety is the spice of life” also appears to be true for consumers when it comes to hot and spicy foods. Consumers are increasingly interested in the type of ingredients used to make hot and spicy foods. Their choices indicate a desire for complexity in their heat experience, which includes the selection of more ethnic varieties.
Thai food was the most common new hot and spicy cuisine tried in the past year, while curry was the most common hot and spicy ingredient. Of those consumers having a preference for hot and spicy foods, jalapeno, cayenne and chipotle were among their preferred pepper sources. Habanero, poblano and peri peri peppers have also risen in popularity in Europe as evidenced by the rise of new product development with these peppers in packaged foods (Innova Market Insights 2015).
“Our research not only confirms the continued, strong consumer demand to include hot and spicy foods as some part of their menu plan, but a desire to experience heat levels in a variety of new ways,” says Gary Augustine, executive director, market development.